Israel has decided to implement a unilateral cease-fire, starting at 2 AM Sunday, Israel time (that’s a few minutes from now). However, troops will stay in Gaza until Palestinian rocket firing stops. And Hamas says that it will not stop until all Israelis are out of Gaza (and other conditions).
Hmm, let’s see: the IDF will stay until the rockets stop, but the rockets won’t stop as long as the IDF is there. Why do I see a problem here?
The problem is that Hamas will not admit that it’s beaten, so it will continue to insist on conditions that it knows Israel can’t meet, such as withdrawal while rockets continue, opening the crossings, trading thousands of prisoners for Gilad Schalit, and so on. Hamas does not yet lack the capability to fight: since the announcement of the cease-fire Saturday night, 8 rockets have fallen in Israel.
I think that what this shows is that the cease-fire is premature. Now international pressure will focus on getting the IDF out of Gaza. It will be “all occupation, all the time” again.
Although Israel has said that it will respond if Hamas violates the cease-fire (that it didn’t agree to), it is much harder politically to restart operations than to continue them. And the restarting will have to happen with the new administration in place in the US.
If Israel thinks the Obama administration will force an end to the fighting, then why not wait until that happens (unless it has already happened)?
If the worry is that wrecking Hamas will produce chaos, maybe Somalia-type warlords, I am not sure this is worse than Hamas.